Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Don't buy that canned cranberry this year - here is a super simple Cranberry Sauce recipe

Cranberries are a favorite in our house so now is the time that we stock up on Fresh Cranberries (I will freeze a bunch too) for desserts, meals, side dishes and even some fun Holiday cocktails.

Last night we made a cranberry sauce with apples this is already the second batch that we have made this year. This is a staple in our house during the fall. It is so easy, I even have my 5 year old help with it. The best 5 year old (who will not eat anything and will not try new foods) said last night while trying some pork cooked with cranberry sauce, that cranberries and apples make everything taste yummy. If it gets him to try something new I am all for it. He can have cranberries and apples on everything.

Why make your own cranberry sauce

- It is so easy to make, you just throw everything in the pot and stir every now and then

- It tastes much better than that stuff that comes in a can

- You can use the leftovers to jazz up many other dishes (see what to use it for section below)

What you need:

- A 1 lb bag of Fresh Cranberries

- 1 cup of fruit juice (you can use just about any kind - grape, cranberry, pomegranite, apple, apple cider)

- The zest of one orange

- The juice of that orange

- The zest of 1 lemon

- The juice of that lemon

- 1 cup sugar (depending on the sugar content in the juice you are adding you can modify this amount)

- 1 Apple (you can dice or chunk based on the consistency that you want to achieve)

What to do:

- Rinse Cranberries and add to a medium saucepan

- Add the 1 cup of the Juice of your choice (you can replace the juice with water, but I like the juice for added flavor)

- Add the juice from the orance and the lemon

- Add Sugar

- Cook on low until the the cranberries begin to pop

- Once the cranberries have begun to pop add:

- Zest from the orange

- Zest from the lemon

- The apple - I like to chunk it so that there are pieces of apple in the sauce, but this is a preference item

- Continue to cook until you reach the desired consistency. My preference is to still have some of the cranberries in tact as well as still having a bite to the apples.

Some other options:

- When adding the zest add raisins and walnuts

- When adding the zest add raisins, dried apricots, dried blueberries or dried cheeries (or some combination of the dried fruits)

- For a kick add jalepeno (diced very finely) at the beginning of the cooking process

What to use this sauce for:

Of course we serve it on Thanksgiving and sometimes Christmas, but you can do almost anything with this sauce. Here are some ideas:

- Try boneless pork ribs with a cranberry "bbq" sauce. Top the pork with the cranberry sauce, some mustard and some hot sauce and cook. When fully cooked it will have a sweet and spicy coating similar to a bbq sauce.

- Top leftover chicken breast (possibly lemon chicken) with the cranberry apple sauce for a quick dish that doesn't feel like your eating the same meal twice.

- Top pancakes or French Toast with either the plain cranberry apple recipe or the version that includes raisins and walnuts or the one that includes the dried fruit

- Combine with cream cheese for a stuffed french toast, reserve some of the sauce to top the french toast as well

- Use the cranberry cream cheese combo on your bagels

- For a new twist on Sweet Potato, mix a dollop of the cranberry sauce into your mashed sweet potato

- "Stuff" you acorn squash with it, the raisin walnut, or dried fruit versions work really well for this.

- Brighten up a spinich salad with chicken, sliced pears (or apples) and the raisin and walnut version of this cranberry sauce. Squeeze lemon over top. No dressing needed

- Add a kick to your everyday turkey sandwhich by topping with the jalepeno cranberry sauce

- Trying to cut out the mayo, spread cranberry sauce on you bread (for a turkey / chicken sandwhich) for a healthier alternative

- Blend the cranberry sauce with cream cheese and thin out as necessary and use as a dip for fruit

- Heat up the regular version or the dried fruit alternative for a fruit topping on your homemade ice cream sundae

- Brighten up your holiday pumpkin pie with a scoop (I use and ice cream scoop) of cranberry sauce right in the center of the pie

- Use as a topping for a cheesecake

- Put in your ice cube try and freeze (I do half cranberry sauce half water) for a fun alternative to ice in various drinks (add it Sparkling wine for a festive holiday drink and for your little ones put it in some ginger ale or flavored seltzer so that they can share in the fun). Or use these Frozen ice cubes in a festive cranberry margarita.

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